By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — All aspects of the route planned for the second phase of the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail, a stretch of 5,000 feet following the railway corridor from the Laconia Public Library to the Belmont town line, will be the subject of a public hearing by the City Council Monday.
The easements, exceptions and permits required to construct the trail are in hand with two exceptions. The WOW Trail committee has requested that the City Council eliminate a dedicated right-turn lane at the intersection of New Salem Street and Main Street and a dozen parallel parking spaces on New Salem Street from below its intersection with Pleasant Street to the Salvation Army Thrift Store.
Eliminating the right-turn lane from New Salem Street onto Main Street is intended to ensure a safe crossing of Main Street, which is required to link the first and second phases of the trail. Allan Beetle, president of the WOW Trail committee, told the council last month that a traffic study found that relatively few motorists seeking to proceed west on Church Street or south through downtown use the turning lane, preferring to enter Veterans Square from Pleasant Street.
The parking spaces on New Salem Street have aroused more controversy. According to Beetle, the engineers designing the trail found there is not enough space between the center line of the street and the track to accommodate both the 12 parking spaces and the 10-foot wide trail. There is 25 feet between the center line of the street and the fencing along the railway, which the New Hampshire Department of Transportation has required to separate the trail from the track room enough for the travel lane and either the trail or the parking, but not both.
In addition, prior to the City Council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., the School Board will present its 2016-2017 budget to the council at 6 p.m.